On Jan. 6th, Principal Holtzman sent out an email to students, parents, and teachers affiliated with North High. Referencing the protests at the Capitol that same morning, the email acknowledged the stress and anxiety that members of the community might have felt and offered helpful links to help families inform their children of the troublesome events.
The understanding and reassuring tone of the principal’s email prefaced the string of suspended homework assignments and in-class discussions associated with the unlawful protest.
A handful of teachers offered homework extensions and postponed exams that would take place the next day to enable students to better digest the news without the added stress of study sessions and submission deadlines. Mr. Gilden, an English teacher, postponed an in-class writing assignment that was initially supposed to take place on Jan. 7th.
“We are in the midst of unprecedented times,” Mr. Gilden announced in a Google Classroom post. “I’m sure many of you are consumed by the news today. Because of that, I will not ask you to write tomorrow.”
Other teachers, like Mr. Mannebach from the social studies department, allotted their students extra time to submit the homework assignments that were due on Jan. 7th.
During the next few days after the protest, multiple different classes engaged in discussions about the events. Surprisingly enough, many of these discussions took place outside of students’ history classes, which reveals the emphasis that many teachers placed on the importance of understanding the significance of the riots at the Capitol.
Mrs. Knacke, a science teacher, explained that she immediately felt compelled to discuss the day’s events with all of her classes. “I thought it would be remiss to continue through my curriculum as if nothing happened,” she said. “I am glad my students had the opportunity to learn about the events at the Capitol, have a dialogue with each other, think through what occurred, and understand the day’s significance.”
Junior Hannah Fishman explained that the discussions provided her and her classmates with a better understanding of the events themselves. “It allows students to grasp the different perspectives of the impacts faced following the protest,” she said.
Sarah Hakakian, a junior, similarly explained that she feels class discussions were a good way to comprehend the Jan. 6th events. “I think that these events will always remain a significant part of history, and it is crucial that each student have a stable understanding of them, especially since we’re living through times that will be touched upon in future social studies classes,” she said.
By offering extensions on homework, pushing back test dates, and bolstering discussion, many teachers selflessly put their curriculums on hold to make room for the important topic of current events. Encouraging students to inform themselves about the news also sends out an important that busy students often forget to heed: being a well-informed citizen can be just as important as being a well-informed learner.
Not only did teachers prioritize the importance of the news, but they also prioritized students’ mental well-being. By taking into account the distress and worry that accompanied the Jan. 6th protests, teachers helped ease the anxiety that many students struggled to cope with after learning about the events.
“Discussing possibly stressful moments helps us all gain more stability in what is an unfavorable situation,” Fishman explained.
In today’s busy and fast-paced society, people often tend to overlook the significance of current events. But teachers at North High did exactly the opposite; they placed a dramatic emphasis on creating a respectful dialogue within the classroom while simultaneously remaining both tolerant and mindful in regard to potential emotional turmoil.